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Do You Work More When You’re Happy but Less When You’re Sad? 10X Winners Don’t

Do You Work More When You’re Happy but Less When You’re Sad? 10X Winners Don’t

Nearly 100 years ago, two legendary explorers, two great rivals Robert Falcon Scott, and Roald Amundsen and their teams, raced to be the first to reach the South Pole.[1] As they marched, neither knew the other’s progress, but marched on with incredible strength and tenacity. The two men were very different, Scott a military man, traditional and professional; Amundesen, a stone cold arctic explorer who sought to be the first to reach the pole at any cost.

    In the end, it was Amundsen who got there first, Scott arriving a couple of days after. Amundsen turned and headed back, his journey home was largely without incident. Scott and his men, tragically, perished on the return.[2]

    Scott was an experienced navigator and explorer long before the south pole expedition. So why did Amundsen arrive days before Scott? What made Amundsen arrived first was his determination, tenacity, and his superior planning.

    It is a story I have long been fascinated by. The sheer drama and heroism of it is incredible. Yet, thinking about it now, I realize that there is so much that can be learned by it, not just about exploration, or history, but in any great undertaking, no matter what it is.

    The story is proof of the success of consistent progress, and something the writer Jim Collins calls the 20 Mile March. Where, he says, the key to success in something doesn’t lie in some natural ability or an individual’s personality, but consistent progress at all times.

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    The 20 Mile March

      On the south pole exhibition, Scott intended to do two things: 1) reach the South Pole before anyone else and 2) conduct research and study the South Pole

      Whereas Amundsen intended to only reach the South Pole before anyone else.

      While Scott and his team were researching and studying, Amundsen was constantly on the move, constantly heading towards the pole. Sure, there may have been days where Scott and his men moved many miles further than Amundsen and his team had that day. But Amundsen’s perseverance kept him moving ever onward.

        The story is proof of the success of progressive, consistent progress — marching for 20 miles no matter what condition.

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        Make the most of the 20 Mile March

          Breaking down the 20 mile march idea, it is possible to see seven steps that you must undertake in order to benefit the most. These are:

          1. Set performance markers

          Before you start on something, the first thing you should do is set a minimum acceptable level of success. Having a minimum acceptable standard forces you to push yourself in a kind of productive level of discomfort.

          It’s like the classic fable of the hare and the tortoise, the reason the hare ultimately lost the race is because he thought he needed to rest when he didn’t, he didn’t establish an acceptable level standard, and as such he lost to an opponent that was significantly slower than him.

          2. Set up constraints, so you don’t push yourself too much

          At the same time, it is just as important to set a constraint so you don’t push yourself too much and then burn out before you reach your goal.

          This is encapsulated by the term “20 mile march”, in good conditions, and on a good surface, a person in good shape can cover 20 miles in roughly 6-7 hours. This amount pushes you, and it can be hard to maintain. At the same time, this 6-7 hours will afford you enough time to rest so you can continue the same pace the day after.

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          3. Ensure that your plan is tailored around you and the task at hand

          Nothing worth doing is done easily, but to maximize your chance of success in a task or undertaking it is important to know not only your own strengths and weaknesses, but also the capabilities of those with you, for example your team mates, and to use this knowledge for your advantage.

          Adapt your plan around everything and you could have the most effective, and most skilled team in the world. But if your plan revolves around someone being able to do something they can’t, then it’s a bad plan.

          Even if you don’t have a team, the same rule applies. After all there is no point in setting yourself for a 20 mile march if you can’t walk.

          4. Ensure that you’re independent from outside forces

          Make sure your goals aren’t influenced by outside forces or influences. Another reason why Scott came second, and perhaps even why his expedition had such a tragic outcome, is because scientific groups at home were interested in research he was able to collect and any studies he was able to undertake. This made his mission more difficult and slowed him down.

          Only you know best about your skills and abilities, and whatever your task is, remember that you will be the one undertaking it, as such, be the boss of it. Any decisions you make along the way or any limitations you put in place along the way will be far more useful and effective than decisions made from outside, this is for one simple reason you will be working from knowledge of the situation, and they will not.

          5. Take control

          This is a similar point to above. But it could prove to be unwise to leave your success in your endeavor up to the actions of others, even if that person is trustworthy and dependable, it is possible that something could happen which will leave the other person unable to fulfill their role in the plan, leaving you stuck, and unable to achieve your goal even if you are ready for it.

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          6. Have a time frame

          As the first two points say, the right time frame is key, too short, then you risk pushing yourself too hard, being open to too much risk, or simply running out of time. Too long, then you risk ceasing to push yourself at all, risking the whole operation.

          7. Be consistent

          This last piece of advice is by far the most important. To succeed in anything, you need to keep moving forward, relentlessly and with consistency. It is inevitable that unexpected things will happen along the way, you may be moving into things you didn’t expect or plan for.

          Returning to Amundsen and Scott, nobody had made it to the South Pole before, nobody knew what to expect. But if you operate with self control, with knowledge and careful thought, then none of it will matter.

          Talent is overrated. The key to success doesn’t lie in any natural ability, but consistent progress at all times. Set yourself a clear goal, stick to your plan and make consistent progress and you’re getting closer to your goal every day.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on July 8, 2020

          How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

          How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

          What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

          When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

          In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

          While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

          As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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            Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

            Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

            The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

            But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

            However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

            This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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            Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

            We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

            Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

            Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

            The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

            When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

            When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

            How to Make Decision Effectively

            Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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            1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

            You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

            Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

            Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

            2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

            You don’t have to choose all the time.

            Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

            Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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            3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

            You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

            The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

            Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

            Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

            So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

            More Tips About Decision Making

            Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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